Pandora’s Box

Wait...you want me to do WHAT with my ponytail?!
I’m about to spoil Avatar. Seriously. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m going to give away the whole enchilada. So if you want to remain unspoiled for when you see it for the first time on DVD (a plan that, I would argue, needs serious reconsideration), then don’t click through to the link. Don’t do it!

Eh, whatever – the plot has absolutely no bearing on the movie, so why not be spoiled…click away.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

A stranger walks into town. He’s dressed funny. People don’t like him, don’t trust him; but they let him stick around because he seems OK enough, just a little slow on the uptick. And he’s mysterious and new…who doesn’t love a mystery?!

This guy, he turns out to be a good bloke. Learns pretty fast, seems to get along with everyone, and, even though you know he’s not really one of the gang, you let him in anyway because he’s trying so hard to fit in and do the right things.

So he’s part of the community now, he’s even got a funny nickname. Then he gets with the girl who’s been promised to the chief’s daughter; tells you that he likes you, but his buddies want to take your land and maybe kill you (and they’re, like, right outside; but he’s known about it for three months); and, by not telling you all this to begin with, ends up getting the chief killed and the only home you’ve ever known destroyed.

Then he tells you he’s really, really sorry, helps you kill his old friends (who he says he never really liked anyway), gets the girl back (even though he inadvertently killed her Dad), and rides off into the sunset on the biggest, baddest dragon he can find.

Add in a bunch of CGI and a pointless dance sequence straight out of a Disney stage show and you’ve just seen Avatar.

Compelling story and internal logic are not Avatar’s strong suit. The acting isn’t all that hot either. The writing…well, when confronted with his betrayal by his former CO, our “Hero” hisses at him, that’s the best the writers could come up with. Shakespeare this ain’t. Even Sigourney Weaver (the best actor that Cameron could pin to this shiny piece of Unobtanium) can’t make anything out of a role that combines the hard-assness of Ripley with the benevolent curiosity of Jane Goodall, two of her best characters.

No, seeing this on a teeny HD television only hammered home the one point you should take away from this little rant: Avatar is useless when it’s not seen in 3-D on a HUGE screen. The scenery is beautiful and, I’m sure, breathtaking when seen with the 3-D depth of field that Cameron was able to add. But, at home, those long tracking shots and extended “running through the forest” sequences only make longer a movie that you had completely figured out before your popcorn stopped popping. If you manage to cobble together the scratch for a new 3-D set, then, by all means, get the DVD (especially since you’ll have this…and…um…Monsters and Aliens as your only justification for the TV. On second thought – don’t buy a 3-D TV.). For the rest of us? rent the extended edition to see the naughtiness that the aliens really use their ponytail USB cables for (and subsequently wince whenever they hook up with a horse…or dragon…or cat…or…tree? Man, and I thought George Lucas had weird sexual hangups), then throw it immediately back in the mailbox and get an actually enjoyable Cameraon sci-fi flick from your queue (Aliens anyone?).

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